Updated 9:50 pm Friday Night:
Received a text message from B. J. Van Gundy. He is withdrawing his earlier statement as the information has “factually changed.” He believes his statement is no longer relevant. He accepts that Sheriff Edwards reported wrongly the $250 donation to the DARE program from John Padgett.
Here’s the story as it first ran at 5:45 pm Friday evening:
Last night, one of the key attacks on B. J. Van Gundy was he had given money to Democrats. He said he had given “less than $1000” total and had given much more money to Republican candidates.
John Padgett said he had never given to Democrats. Today, Van Gundy’s camp is challenging that statement. They allege John Padgett gave a $250 contribution to Ira Edwards’ campaign for Sheriff last year. They provided a PDF of the Secretary of State’s Website with Sheriff Edwards as a candidate and the results as well as a page from the Georgia Transparency and Finance Commission showing a contribution by John Padgett.
Van Gundy provided a statement:
“Sometimes in politics, disagreements can get quite heated. That’s fine, and I’m perfectly okay with that. However, when clear lines of dishonesty are crossed the offending parties need to be held to account.
“The evidence that John Padgett has contributed to a Democratic campaign is not something I would normally criticize, especially when it is a very small amount and stands against years of service to the Republican Party. That he criticized me and said, “I’ve never given a check to any Democrat”, as if to make himself above reproach, is hypocrisy when he has, in fact, contributed to a Democrat. It’s a shame John Padgett had to stoop to such a level simply to be guilty of the same offense.”
John Padgett says he stands by his statement that he hasn’t given to Democratic campaigns. He did give $250 to Sheriff Edwards’ DARE program to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in schools in May, 2011. Sheriff Edwards wrote a letter to John Padgett on May 9, 2011 thanking him for the contribution to the DARE program.
Padgett does not know how the check was classified as a campaign contribution.
Here is Padgett’s statement on the matter:
“Well, there you go again, BJ, making wild accusations without the facts to back it up.
“In March of 2011, I was proud to help sponsor a golf tournament organized by the Clarke County Sheriff to benefit D.A.R.E., a well-respected organization that fights tirelessly to keep our children away from drugs. My contribution was made to D.A.R.E.. The documentation for this contribution is attached and will be available to anyone who continues to believe your baseless, ridiculous attacks.
“Let me be clear, I have never given money to a Democrat and never will because their policies are wrong for this state and this country. While you’ve been busy funding Democrats in DeKalb County the rest of us have been trying to grow the party.”
Martha Zoller’s ZPolitics Takeaway: I think Savannah is going to be exciting tomorrow afternoon. I chatted with a consultant friend of mine and laid out the “evidence” on both sides. He said if he was a BJ Van Gundy supporter and saw the documentation his team had, he’d believe them. However, when he saw the letter from the Sheriff from May, 2011 and looked at the Georgia Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission from that date, he thinks it more likely the money got reported as a contribution to the campaign when it was a contribution to a charity. The bigger issue is how is Sheriff Ira Edwards keeping his books and keeping campaign contributions separate from his charitable work?